Utah coronavirus cases up 988 Monday; at least one hospital limits elective surgeries as beds fill up

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jennie McQueen administers a COVID-19 saliva test at a new testing station at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

University of Utah Hospital has begun to cancel some elective surgeries as patients with COVID-19 fill more and more beds — and the intensive care unit has been about 95% occupied, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The reduction in elective surgeries “isn’t across the board,” like it was when Utah hospitals braced for the first coronavirus outbreaks in the spring, said U. Health spokeswoman Kathy Wilets. But since last week, doctors have been trying to put off procedures that can wait, Wilets said. The hospital has been canceling about five surgeries each day, of the 140 daily procedures usually performed.

Meanwhile, hospital executives reported the ICU had been at about 95% capacity as of Monday morning. “That seems pretty consistent the past few days,” Wilets said.

With 988 new coronavirus cases reported on Monday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses declined slightly amid a testing lull — but the strain on Utah hospitals remained as high as ever.

The Utah Department of Health on Monday reported a seven-day average of 1,145 new positive test results per day — below Sunday’s rate of 1,161, but far above the state’s goal to keep weeklong averages to fewer than 400 new cases per day.

Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 522 on Monday, with five fatalities reported since Sunday:

  • A Davis County man, age 65 to 84.

  • A Garfield County woman, age 45 to 64.

  • A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85.

  • Two Washington County men, ages 64 to 85.

Hospitalizations held steady Monday, with 249 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported. On average, 235 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week — the highest since the pandemic began.

In total, 4,331 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, up 25 from Sunday.

Utah’s intensive care units were 64.2% occupied as of Monday, meeting the state’s goal of less than 85% occupancy.

Most of Utah’s local health districts reported slight declines in their rates of new cases. But Tooele County reported a record high number of new cases and weeklong average, while Davis County and Central Utah Health District matched Sunday’s record highs.

For the past week, 13.9% of all tests have come back positive — a rate that indicates a large number of infected people are not being tested, state officials have said. Statewide, Utah’s rate of positive tests has been above 5% since May 25, according to UDOH data.

There were 4,360 new test results reported Monday, below the weeklong average of 8,107 new tests per day.

Patients now can get COVID-19 testing at Rice-Eccles Stadium, thanks to a program run by University of Utah Health and the University of Utah. Testing, using the saliva method, will be done Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon.

Tests will be done by appointment only; current patients can use U. Health’s MyChart website or app, or schedule an appointment online at healthcare.utah.edu/coronavirus, or call the U.'s coronavirus toll-free hotline, 844-745-9325.